A Giant Named Fin & a Ship Called Titanic (Ireland Day #6)


Day 6 had a bit of an earlier start, though it was justifiable as we were headed to arguably my favorite place we would see on the entire trip: Giant’s Causeway. On the drive over, we of course played the day song, and I of course fell asleep at one point, then as we drew closer, Tim went into the legend of Giant’s Causeway, which essentially went something like this:

Once upon a time there was an Irish giant named Fin MacCool who was challenged to a duel by Scottish giant Benandonner. When Fin agreed, he built a causeway (or bridge) from Ireland to Scotland so that the two could meet up and go all Connor McGregor on each other. As the duel drew closer however, Fin became afraid as he realized how much bigger Benandonner was. So, when old Benny came across for the fight, Fin had his wife disguise him as a baby. Then, when Benandonner saw him, he was like, “holy sh*t, if that’s the size of Fin Mac’s baby, I don’t even wanna know how big he is!” So he ran back to Scotland, destroying the causeway in the process. The End.

Now, over time it has been proven that the causeway was formed by a volcanic eruption, but I greatly prefer the story to dusty old science. That being said, when we came around the hill to finally see it, it was hard for me to look at it and render any part of it as “destroyed.”


Around 1:00 we returned to the coach to head for Belfast where our first stop was the Titanic museum. It was a suitable next stop, as my mind was already blown by Giant’s Causeway, leaving it wide open to absorb more wonder, and fortunately, the Titanic museum more than sufficed in providing just that.

Starting with early-penciled sketches of the massive ship, the museum took you through the long process of building it, decorating it, testing it and then ultimately launching it, which as we all know didn’t go too well. But being so immersed in the history of the boat, without primarily focusing on the tragic crash was incredible. It actually gave me more of an appreciation for the tragedy than I had before, as I saw all the work that had gone in and all the pride the city had in the finished product. In one of the last rooms, there was a series of displays that showed printed versions of the distress calls sent out by the captain after they hit the iceberg. There was such desperation in his words, I can’t imagine the hopelessness he, as well as so many others felt that night.

From the museum, we loaded back on to the coach, this time with an extra member: Dee, our city tour guide for the afternoon. She grabbed hold of the mic, sent Tim to the back of the bus, and took us around Belfast which, like Derry/Londonderry, has a history of violence, much of which is still present in the minds of those today.

Just as the two opposing sides exist in Derry/Londonderry, so do they in Belfast, some still so completely in disagreement that they live in gated neighborhoods, separated by “The Peace Wall.” When we reached this part of the city, Dee asked Rob to pull over, allowing us to jump out and not only look at the wall, but sign it. I walked down a little ways, reading different messages and trying to find a good spot for mine, and when I finally found a small patch of white I wrote the first thing that came to mind:

“I urge you to please notice when you are happy. – Kurt Vonnegut”

I’ve used this quote in a previous blog as it really resonates with me, but when I thought of it in the presence of the wall it felt much heavier. As I removed the cap of the marker I hesitated for a second, wondering briefly if the quote was appropriate to write, but then I thought of Ronan and the story he told about his son. And for me, that’s what I wanted to quote represent: notice when you are happy, notice when there is peace, because that gives hope a chance to grow.


That night we were on our own for dinner but were set to meet the group at a few bars later, so after we showered Natalee and I met up with a few of our Australian friends and made our way into the city. It should be noted that this particular day was the 4th of July and, knowing what an important day this is in America, our friends were avidly encouraging us to choose what we wanted to eat. We were throwing out ideas and talking about what our normal traditions were back home, when all of a sudden a man on the sidewalk grabbed onto my arm and stopped me. Coming from LA, where road rage and distrust of one another is pretty much instilled in your blood, I glared at this man and then at his hand, the message of which he quickly picked up on and let me go. After doing so, he immediately dove into a fast paced rant about something, none of which I could even remotely understand, leading me to believe he was speaking Gaelic, and causing me to reply, “I’m sorry, I don’t speak Gaelic.” He then nodded, explaining in barely distinguishable English that it didn’t matter, as it was not what he wanted to talk to me about. He made a motion at his neck and then pointed at mine and I looked down, “My scarf?” I asked. In honor of Independence Day I had worn an American flag scarf, which apparently is the reason he stopped me in the first place. As it turned out, he just wanted to have a chat about Wimbledon, and was curious if I thought Serena Williams would take it home this year. (Spoiler alert: she did.) I replied with a shrug and a smile, which mostly meant, “I don’t follow tennis,” but also said, “Yeah Serena probably will, she’s amazing.” The man then thanked us profusely for being so nice and kissed each of us on the cheek, including our friend Calvin, who seemed a little less enthused than the rest of us.

When we made into the city, being the good Southern Californians we are, we ultimately decided on Mexican food—meaning the first dinner sans potatoes!—and then walked to meet the group at a bar called The Duke of York. From there we walked to The Dirty Onion, a bar built within the oldest building in Belfast, where we took this fabulous, all American (except for the peek-a-boo Irish guy in the corner) picture to commemorate the 4th of July:


From there we moved to a third bar called The Spaniard, which, while small, had a good atmosphere. The walls were covered in old pictures and trinkets, including a review in a newspaper that described the bar as follows:

My only gripe is that the bar is a little dark for my liking, but then again if you’re hiding from the world or entangled in a clandestine love affair it’s probably just perfect.

So if you ever find yourself involved a clandestine love affair, you know where to go.

Read Day 7 here.

Classic Love Scenes I Couldn’t Be Part Of

When I was little, love to me was like the locked room of my grandparents’ house. I always knew one day I’d have to break down the door with savage curiosity, but until then I’d just sit in the living room watching Growing Pains and eating cottage cheese.

As I grew up, I watched a number of romantic movies that taught me what love was “supposed” to look like. (They also tried to convince me that every couple that falls in love is essentially perfect and blemishless, but I was eventually able to call BS on that.)

Sometimes as I watched the movies, I transported myself into the character of the female lead; I wanted to see how it felt to be told by someone that I completed them or that our story still wasn’t over. And most of the time, when the lines worked, I understood my character’s choice to ride off into the sunset. Other times however, I couldn’t even begin to relate.

Here are some examples of those times:


Movie: Pearl Harbor

Scene: Danny (Josh Hartnett) takes Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) for a private flight.


Romantic right? They’re own private flight. They’re all cozy and Danny is hot and Evelyn is hot but also slightly scared and excited. Everything is going great and I’m there, I’m in the scene, I’m the goddess that is Kate Beckinsale, and I make one simple request: “DON’T FLIP THE DAMN PLANE.” (Minor paraphrasing, of course.) But what does Danny do? You guessed it. He flips the damn plane.  And I get it, I really do, you little rascal.  As we flip, the fear I feel will supposedly morph into adrenaline and then evolve into excitement and hunger, resulting in our ultimate baby making back in the hanger. But for me, if I was Evelyn, the whole “no flip” thing would not be a suggestion. “DO NOT”, I would say, “DO NOT DO A BARREL ROLL WITH THIS DAMN PLANE. It’s nothing against your piloting shenanigans, I just have extremely bad motion sickness and I WILL vomit all over this sexy red dress. Then chances are, we don’t make a baby and Ben Affleck doesn’t get to tell you you’re going to be a father right before you die. It will all be bad. Just land the plane and we’ll grab a milkshake.


Movie: Titanic

Scene: Jack (Leo DiCaprio) saves Rose (Kate Winslet) from jumping off the boat.


I’m not great in heels; I accepted this fact a long time ago. In addition, 90% of my wardrobe is leggings and T-shirts, so getting into the character of an elegant British woman who wears long gowns and kitten heels is already a bit of a stretch, but I’ll work with it. There I am, walking towards the back of the Titanic, ready to jump off the edge into nothingness. Unlike Kate’s stride, mine is a bit like a baby deer and my ankle rolls a few times, but I’m so desperate to get away from my shithead fiancé and controlling mother, I ignore my shoes and keep walking. As I gimp, I’m unaware of my subconscious hope that Leo shows up, but as I take my suicidal stance, he appears.  Before I see him however, a 4th and final ankle roll sends me tumbling into the water.  Leo considers diving in after me. He pictures us swimming to an undiscovered shore and starting a life together, thriving Blue Lagoon style. We’d forgo clothing and he’d draw me like one of his Amazon girls, and we would name our first child Iceberg, an ill-advised ode to the frigid jump that brought us together. He pictures all of this whilst I’m in mid-fall, then realizes that although I had a lot of potential to be the love of his life, he could surely find someone in New York with much less baggage. He then steps away from the edge, goes back downstairs and kicks that Italian guy’s ass at poker.


Movie: Love Actually

Scene: Mark (Andrew Lincoln) confesses his love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) via doorstep sign montage.


The thing with this scene is not that it wouldn’t work for me, it’s that—unlike the movie—it actually would. Yes, yes, I know that I, Juliet, “we”, are already committed to another man, and in my own life I would never dream of doing such a thing. But wearing Juliet’s shoes, I would step off that porch and run away with sign-guy. It would be scandalous and completely out of character and I’d probably drown in guilt. But then, when the apocalypse set in and zombies ate all of my friends, I’d realize that I clearly made the right choice, because as it turns out, sign guy is a badass. Though I’d probably end up leaving him for Darryl. What? It’s the apocalypse and my second husband is severely unstable! Give me a break!


Movie: Love and Basketball

Scene: Monica (Sonaa Lathan) challenges Quincy (Omar Epps) to a one on one game to win his heart.love-and-basketball

This one is doomed pretty early due to the fact that I have almost zero basketball skills. There is a crack in the cement of my parent’s backyard that I can shoot layups from all day without missing, but I wouldn’t exactly define myself as someone who’s “got game.” I’m the person that dives in front of the ball when it’s being “checked” because I think it’s the first pass I’ve ever had a shot at blocking. The display I’d put on in a one on one game would never provoke Quincy to offer up double or nothing. He’d probably just shake my hand and pat himself on the back for dumping me in college. Now, there is a strong argument that could be made regarding the likely hood of this game ever happening due to the aforementioned lack of skill. This proposal would work far better if I wanted to break up with someone. Example:  if I was dating David Beckham and I was just sick of his perfect body and delicious accent, I might challenge him to a series of penalty kicks for his heart. If I win, I keep it, but if I SOMEHOW manage to blow it, we break up.  See? I would be setting myself up for failure.  So proposing a game of basketball to WIN the love of my life?! No, that would not be my best idea, but there’s no need to get technical….foul! Basketball pun? Right? AM I RIGHT?! #slamdunk. I’ll stop.


The main lesson I’ve learned from both love in movies and love in real life is that it never looks the same. I think we all have our own path to follow and it doesn’t always include Lloyd Dobler standing outside our window with a boom box…although I hope mine does.